Promotional poster for the film
|Directed by||Mani Shankar|
|Produced by||Sudhish Rambottla|
|Written by||Mani Shankar|
|Music by||Sashi Pritam
|Edited by||Apurva Asrani|
|Release dates||29 August 2008|
|Running time||137 mins|
Mukhbiir (मुखबिर) (Translation: Informer) is a 2008 Indian spy thriller film directed by the Mani Shankar. Filmed in Hindi, the film revolves around the life and events surrounding an Indian spy. The film stars actor Sameer Dattani as the spy, and Om Puri, Sunil Shetty, Sushant Singh, Rahul Dev, Jackie Shroff and Raima Sen play the supporting roles.
Director Mani Shankar had a story in mind in 1996 itself when he was shooting an anti-militancy music video for the Intelligence Bureau. It was during this time that he met a young Intelligence Bureau recruit who was badly tortured in militant captivity. The young man was left unaided by the Indian government thereafter as he offered them no utility. This rendezvous with the stark reality of their lives inspired Shankar into the story for this film. Shankar was once asked in an interview on why his previous films such as Rudraksh spent too much on research and very little on character emotions. He replied in affirmative and said that he strived to blend both of them well in this film. Since the subject of the film revolved around espionage, Shankar resorted to intense research to avoid any unverifiable instances in his film. He worked closely with the Indian espionage service and utilised information for the film. Producer Sudhish Rambottla selected Shankar's script after reviewing 40 of them.
Director Shankar felt that actor Sameer Dattani will not comprehend fear and hence not emote well while filming. To overcome this, Shankar insisted that Dattani spend a night in a prison. Only the local inspector knew him to be an actor. Besides conducting several training workshops for Dattani to prepare for his character, Shankar also organized a visit to the underworld. Though he had a harrowing experience during the night, he was happy that his efforts brought him praise from the critics.
Release and reception
Prior to its release, director Shankar claimed that he was able to help the producer recover the budget costs. He hypothesized that the revenue from television, home video rights along with the soundtrack is usually more than the cost of the production. Since Shankar claimed "pre-release profit" for this film due to intelligent budgeting, he was confident even before the film's release.
The film released on 29 August 2008 across India. The film's release coincided with the release of six other movies - Hijack, Chamku, C Kkompany, Rock On!!, Wanted and Wall E. Usually Indian film distributors don't expect much from the films which are released during the Ramadan season. Citing them as "gap fillers" and average films, the distributors didn't foresee much revenue for this film and for those released during this season. On the contrary, Shankar said that they tried for the film to release during the holy month of Ramadan. This was because it had relevance to film's story that had the protagonist getting converted to Islam. Actor Dattani was not quite worried about the audience' expectations, but instead he was worried about his expectations from the film.
In the first week of its release, the film garnered 15 lakh (US$25,000). Producer Rambottla was so impressed with the efforts of actor Dattani and director Shankar, that he declared a unique money-back offer to audiences. As per this, he was prepared to offer a ticket refund to 5,000 viewers across India if they did not like the film.
Though film critic Taran Adarsh liked the idea of the film, he found it similar to Ram Gopal Varma's Contract. Despite various cinematic sequences which he found to be well written and enacted, Adarsh found the climax to be totally completely unnatural. Terming it as a film that "could've been a riveting experience, but it fails to register an impact."
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